Sensitive Skin Secrets

Sensitive skin can be a problem at all ages and stages. But you needn’t be a shrinking violet. We’ve got tips and tricks to care for your sensitive skin this spring, and all through the year.

Just what is sensitive skin? Generally speaking, sensitive skin tends to overreact to the environment and to topical applications like soaps, skin care products, and makeup. The reaction can run the gamut from redness (inflammation) to itching, burning, blistering, or peeling.

There are many reasons for skin sensitivity. Age is one. Babies’ skin is sensitive because it has not yet acclimatized to the environment. During puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, hormonal surges and withdrawals increase the skin’s sensitivity. As we get older, our skin–long exposed to the elements, and depleted of natural oils and moisturizers–becomes as sensitive as a baby’s again.

Some people’s skin is always sensitive. Others experience sensitivity for brief periods–such as during hay fever season, or while recovering from laser rejuvenation procedures or skin surgeries. Skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, and eczema are associated with added sensitivity. So are topical allergic reactions (called contact dermatitis) to skin care products or makeup, which can develop even after years of problem-free use.

Whether your sensitive skin is a lifetime given or a temporary annoyance, here are some tips for calming the inflammation and babying your face.

Know your ingredients. If you’re going to put anything at all on your sensitive skin, be sure to check the contents. Over-the-counter products may be labeled hypoallergenic (less likely to trigger allergic reactions) but may still contain ingredients that irritate. Fragrances are a number one offender. Choose products labeled fragrance-free (not just unscented, which means substances may have been added to tone down the natural smell of the product). If you have pollen-related allergies, products that contain bee propolis or floral essences (especially lavender, jasmine, and chrysanthemum) can be irritating. See our cosmetic consultant Mary Lou for advice on physician formulated skin care products suited to your needs.

Avoid harsh scrubs, deep peels, and microdermabrasion. Use a cleanser formulated for gentleness, like SkinMedica’s Sensitive Skin Cleanser. For refreshment and gentle hydration, our aesthetician Sandra recommends our Sensi-Peel, especially developed for sensitive and acne-prone skin. Instead of mechanical exfoliation, choose dermaplaning, a gentle, nonabrasive technique that removes dull skin and fine facial hair without irritation. During periods of sensitivity, also avoid treatment with retinols and other drying ingredients.

Protect your skin from UV radiation. We know, we know–but it’s a mantra that bears repeating. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen is essential for cherishing your sensitive skin, especially if you’re post-procedure. Many people with sensitive skin have trouble finding a sunscreen that doesn’t add to the problem, so we recommend checking with us at Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena for the sun protection that’s right for you. EltaMD UV Clear SPF46, which is available in both clear and lightly tinted formulas, is popular with our post-procedure and acne-prone patients for its gentle, effective protection.

Contact us today for more help keeping your sensitive skin comfortable and glowing!